About Us—The Hoffman Family

Hoffman family

Who We Are

We are family dairy breeders with a passion for practical, profitable grazing cows, and we want to help you find the best genetics for your grass dairy or homestead. Read more about our family in our blog post.

Our Breeds

We raise heritage Dutch Belted and Milking Shorthorn cattle for their ability to easily convert grass into milk.

How It All Started

Since 1936, our family has been breeding cattle on our prairie farm in Illinois, and we are honored to continue that legacy as we move forward. For more about our history as breeders, see our blog here.

What Can You Expect From Us?

  • Personal service from our family to yours
  • Excellent semen quality
  • Long-term commitment and availability
  • Mating advice from our years of breeding experience
The main staff—Miriam, Martha, and Winifred Hoffman

What Can You Expect From Our Genetics?

  • Fertility
  • Calving ease
  • Freedom from metabolic disorders like milk fever and ketosis
  • Good milk production even without grain
  • Body capacity for forage utilization
  • Great feet and legs, with hoof-trimming rarely needed
  • Moderate, practical size

General Traits of our Milking Shorthorns

  • Sturdier than the mainstream Milking Shorthorns
  • Easy-fleshing for better outwintering
  • Excellent beef yield on steers
  • Easy-going disposition
  • Dairy strength
  • Clean-cut yet not frail
  • Well-attached udders that last
  • Many are polled, some homozygous (100% dehorner of calves)
  • Cows weigh 950–1400 pounds
  • Butterfat range: 3.5–4.2%
  • Protein range: 3.0–3.7%
    • (Butterfat and protein varies between individuals and feeding programs)

General Traits of our Dutch Belted

  • Incredible longevity
  • Excellent breeding back
  • Early maturity
  • Silky udders with little edema
  • Slender but rugged
  • Mobility and agility
  • Assertive and energetic
  • Smaller frame than Milking Shorthorns (Dutch Belts usually weigh 800–1200 lbs)
  • Special milk quality with high cheese yield
  • Butterfat range: 3.0–4.2%
  • Protein range: 3.0–3.5%
    • (Butterfat and protein varies between individuals and feeding programs)

You can read an in-depth comparison of the breeds here.

Meet the Family

Winifred Hoffman and her daughters Martha and Miriam are the primary team at Bestyet A.I. Sires, and the rest of the family helps out in various capacities.

Winifred Hoffman

            Winifred is the master breeder at Bestyet A.I. Sires, and she’s the one you’ll most likely talk with if you call or email. She has been working with our herd since 1981 when she took a summer job on the farm that became a lifelong calling as she married Kenneth a few years later. (Here’s the story.) After his passing in 2005, she has carried on the breeding and conservation work.

            She writes columns for the local newspaper about farm and family life, and she volunteers at the local elementary school.

            Winifred transforms milk from the herd into butter, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream, much to the delight of the family. Her talent in the kitchen extends to baking. In fact, her grandchildren consider her synonymous with the healthy homemade muffins that she makes so often.

Martha Hoffman

            Martha maintains the website and organizes blog and social media posts. Martha also does the artificial insemination and works with Winifred and Miriam on breeding decisions for the herd.

            One of her favorite activities is reading and exploring her father Kenneth’s collection of books on cattle history and breeding, and she is honored to help carry on her father’s legacy through the genetics he preserved and improved. She also loves talking with customers and fellow breeders and seeing how the genetics are working in herds across the country.

            She thinks there’s nothing better than walking through the herd as they peacefully graze in the pasture.

Miriam Hoffman

            Her first sentence was, “I see a cow!” From the first bottle calf she eagerly raised, to today as she mentors young 4-H members, she has always loved working with the herd.

            Miriam is involved in all aspects of the operation, from breeding decisions to making hay and beyond. We all have a part in training the calves to lead, but Miriam has mastered the art. If you get a sweet calf from us, you can thank her for it. Many of her favorite moments on the farm have been when she takes a scared, nervous heifer and in as little as a few days, turns it into a gentle, calm creature. She believes very strongly in mutual respect and love between human and bovine.

            She is also very active in the FFA, having served as the 2018–2019 Illinois FFA State Secretary.  While this full-time role took her away from the farm for a year to work with agriculture education students and advocate for the industry, she took advantage of her state and nationwide travel to share the story of Meriville Farm and her beloved cattle.